Thursday, May 28, 2020

Color Control

A low key painting is one with dark elements--an extreme example would be a night scene. A high key painting has a softer feel with lighter, paler colors. If you follow my work, I am much more likely to produce a painting more low key with strong colors and more contrast. Frankly, I think a high key painting is trickier. As I found with this piece, The Constant Gardener. 

There is a story behind this painting. Ten years ago we returned to our home in Blue River after spending two years on the Big Island of Hawaii. We had house sitters in the home, but our acreage needed a lot of work to meet my goals. We hired a wonderful female gardener who worked hard and treated gardening like an art. As I worked with her, I took a lot of pictures of her weeding, pruning, and planting.

I had seen paintings with multiple figures and wanted to create such a piece. Remember, this was ten years ago! I started with an abstracted cruciform shape with delicate colors. I sketched three different shapes of our gardener in different poses and size. After struggling with what to do next, I stuck it in a drawer labeled starts, where it laid for, you got it, ten years.

During this time of Shelter at Home, I have gone back and forth between painting plein air on our property and digging through old work. So out came the beginnings of The Constant Gardener.
I found a certain charm to the soft colors and decided to see if I could make something out of this start. The first step was to put flesh tones into the faces and arms. Hmmm . . .

I then took a photo on my iPad and used Procreate ( a neat app for trying something out on a painting) to mess around with potential colors.

The next morning I began to work on the paper with light washes and glazes. I found putting a little color on at a time had its benefits. I could layer and wait. I could look and decide. It is probably easier to add a bit and not have to lift off when using too much color. 

And so the painting  continued with a delicacy I rarely shoot for.

After I developed the figures, I started gently applying glazes over the shapes of the background. I would think to myself "that's enough, don't overdo it."

For several days now, I have looked at this piece and decided that it was not quite enough. But today I feel like it might be just enough! And now I have a new series in mind--Shared Space.

The Constant Gardener

Michael Schlicting once told me in a workshop that sometimes you just aren't ready technically to paint an idea. So true!

1 comment:

Ruth Armitage said...

I love how this piece came out! I think it is a great way to stretch yourself :) And your process photos are illuminating.